Thousands of $$ spent lobbying

Thousands of $$ spent lobbying

April 11th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

It is not a simple process for important, and often complex, public issues to be presented to legislators for discussion and explanation, so the lawmakers may understand the facts and make sound decisions.

While "lobbying" may not generally be considered in a favorable light, the process of explaining issues and informing legislators -- and us ordinary citizens -- is important.

We are reminded of that because The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that lobbyists in Georgia spent nearly $10,000 a day on gifts to Georgia legislators during their recently ended legislative session.

An analysis of Georgia lobbyist spending showed that $866,747 was spent on gifts to legislators between Jan. 1 and March 31 -- an average of $9,525 a day.

What for? Well, more than $17,000 was spent on tickets to sports and other events, the AJC found. And lawmakers have to eat, right? Three members of the House Insurance Committee were taken to dinner Feb. 2 by an insurance company lobbyist. The tab: $245 apiece.

It is important for those proposing laws to have access to legislators, so they may explain the issues to the elected officials who are expected to enact new laws. The lobbyists believe they have to spend to get legislators' attention.

And those who are pushing specific legislation may be willing to spend a lot of money to present their views in a positive way.

The gifts, dinners and other spending are not illegal, and advocates say lobbying is essential to the legislative process.

Similar spending, of course, occurs with other state legislators and members of Congress.

A statewide reform group pressed lawmakers to limit lobbyists' gifts to $100 per event, but the group's effort failed, the AJC reported.

Lobbyists, indeed, may perform a valuable and informative service. But when money or favors are involved, we worry that the legislative process may be tainted.

It long has been said that there are two things that are not pleasurable to watch -- "making laws and making sausage."